I understand the definition of remit; so I am not asking about it. I just want to delve in deeper. I also recognise the Etymological Fallacy and its various drawbacks. So how should I interpret or rationalize its etymology, in order to intuit or naturalise it, and to help me remember?

1. remit = [chiefly British] The task or area of activity officially assigned to an individual or organization

2. An item referred to someone for consideration

Etymonline: late 14c., "to forgive, pardon," from Latin remittere "send back, slacken, let go back, abate," from re- "back" (see re-) + mittere "to send" (see mission). Meaning "allow to remain unpaid" is from mid-15c. Meaning "send money (to someone)" first recorded 1630s. Related: Remitted; remitting.

For instance, how does re- fit the 2 definitions above? Both refers someTHING NEW to someONE NEW. Yet back implies a reappraisal; so what's sent back?

Footnote: I encountered remit, in the last sentence, of the last para, of p 7 of 16 here.

  • 1
    I've always thought of "remit" as "what is properly mine". My "remit is the Northeast territory", "please remit payment for services performed", etc.
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 24, 2014 at 11:17
  • @DanBron In American English, your example, "please remit payment for services performed" is the ONLY usage with which I am familiar! We use it in accounting, well, bookkeeping, a lot. Oct 25, 2014 at 4:57

2 Answers 2


As a native British English speaker, I have a vague preference for stressing the first syllable for #1: "I have a wide REmit", and stressing the second for something related to remittance ("the Court of Session may accept a reMIT").

A memory aid could be:

  1. REmit is like GAmut; this is the stuff encompassed by a job, like a gamut is the colours encompassed by a printer.
  2. reMIT is like a reTURN in tennis, a court can agree to a reMIT and thus a reTURN of the case to a lower court. As "a return" is to "I return", so "A remit" is to "I remit".
  • This answer is interesting, but its focus on pronunciation seems a bit far afield from the posted question's emphasis on varied senses of the prefix 're-' and their possibly divergent etymological trails.
    – Sven Yargs
    Dec 19, 2018 at 22:39

I am a french native speaker so remit for me is really close to the Latin origin. In french remette is to "give back" or "send back". We use remit frequently at my workplace when an entity or an organization have asked something from us, be it mandatory periodical reports, review of draft documents, etc, and is used pretty much in a "deliverable" sense. We also use remit as in "area of responsibility" as in "within our remit" but I always understood that in the same manner as what the "deliverable" would require. For example, a committee or an organisation that is created with the purpose of studying something and creating a report, or for establishing policies or instructions on a specific topic, or for creating an output of some sort. The deliverable or output would dictate their scope of responsibility hence the expression "within our remit". This use of remit is based on a mandate given to an organization or individual to produce a specific outcome or output that they have to "give back" or "send back" to whoever gave them the mandate. I may be off based but that is how I interpret the usage based on its etymology.

  • 1
    Hi, and welcome to Stack Exchange. With new answers to older questions (especially questions with an already accepted answer), we're looking for new information. Please take the tour and have a look around.
    – Davo
    Sep 21, 2020 at 19:10
  • Sorry, Johanne; as this seems largely or wholly a rationale of the modern French sens/e of the lexeme remet/te, your valuable analysis is off-topic on ELU (unless you can show an informing of the English usage). Sep 21, 2020 at 19:19
  • I find Johanne's answer super helpful. Thanks, Johanne! Mar 19, 2023 at 15:45

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